Journeys of Faith and Welcome
I’ve listed the highlights below:
‘Holding Hope in the Face of Hate’ on 22 June 2023 over lunch in Glasgow.
This is hosted by Interfaith Glasgow and will be an inspiring dialogue and
discussion amongst New Scots and people of faith.
Given the specific situation for Ukrainian New Scots in Edinburgh, we are
hosting an lunch-time information session and networking for faith groups in
Edinburgh on Wednesday this week. Please share and you can sign up here: https://newscotsfaithgroups.eventbrite.co.uk
A number of local interfaith groups are hosting welcome events across Scotland this week. They are all listed in the Refugee Festival Scotland Programme and there is more information here. Do have a look and share.
The, together with Together With Refugees, we are launching the multi-faith video expressing concern about the Illegal Migration Bill and calling for a more hospitable approach. Many faith leaders are speaking out in this and it would be wonderful if you could share it too. You can watch and download the video here, and you can find suggestions for how to share the video here, including example tweets. At the bottom of this email I have attached a press release that you can use to shape your news stories, but please add quotes from your own faith leaders. Please do share it widely today and throughout the week.
FAITH LEADERS JOIN FORCES TO OPPOSE ILLEGAL MIGRATION BILL
Leaders from Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths have joined forces to voice their opposition to the Illegal Migration Bill in a video co-ordinated by Together With Refugees and launched today (Monday 19th June 2023) at the start of Refugee Week.
Those taking part include the Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford and member of the House of Lords, Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen from Manchester Reform Synagogue, and Imam Dr Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi Chief Imam of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society in the United Kingdom (1).
Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, who arrived in the UK at 14 years old as a refugee from Iran, said: “This bill would allow the UK to turn its back on people in desperate need - denying safety to those who are vulnerable. Instead it would lock up people who have fled terrible circumstances in fear for their lives. I arrived in this country aged 14 and was given protection and welcome. But the proposals in this bill would mean detaining children who need help behind bars. I am proud to join with other faith leaders to stand with refugees against this bill. It does not represent who we are as faith leaders or as a nation.”
Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen, Manchester Reform Synagogue, said: “My very existence is owed to countries who understood their duty to welcome in refugees. My religion repeatedly reminds me that it is because we have had to wander that, in turn, our responsibility is to others who are fleeing from harm now. Judaism demands that we fight for justice and it’s clear that the Illegal Migration Bill is far from just or responsible.”
Imam Dr Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi, Chief Imam of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, said: “Any policy must recognise human dignity and compassion as underlining core principles. A compassionate policy can still secure our borders and prevent dangerous crossings, and at the same time taking into consideration the most vulnerable.”
The 14 contributors to the film state: “As people of faith, we strive to welcome the stranger, to offer hospitality, to love, protect, listen, learn, and show compassion. This is who we are.
“Across the UK, now and throughout history, individuals and communities of faith have welcomed refugees into their homes and lives. When people travel across borders because they are fleeing war, persecution or oppression, we are ready to play our part. But the Illegal Migration Bill will deny people desperately seeking safety in the UK the right to community, peace, compassion and security. It will ban people from getting the protection they need, punish them for seeking sanctuary, and separate families. Instead of hospitality, it treats people with hostility, discrimination and distrust.
“We believe in a different approach. We believe in a fair and just asylum system that welcomes those who need protection and respects their dignity. We call on the government to listen to communities who say this bill does not reflect what we want our country to be. As people of faith, we will stand together with refugees, because it’s who we are.”
The Illegal Migration Bill is currently making its way through Parliament. It would mean that anyone, including children, who arrives in the UK via an irregular route, such as a small boat across the Channel, would never be able to claim asylum here even if they have had to flee their home country due to persecution or conflict. The UNHCR has said that the bill “would amount to an asylum ban” as it would extinguish “the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how compelling their claim may be”. It also includes extensive powers to detain people, including children, with no time limits (2).
(1)The full list of faith leaders who took part in the video are:
Bishop Mark Strange Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
Elizabeth Palmer CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society
Emily Shepherd Co-CEO of Welcome Churches
Father Michael Coughlan Parish Priest
Fiona Bennett Moderator, United Reformed Church
Revd Inderjit Bhogal President of City of Sanctuary
Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen, Manchester Reform Synagogue and Manchester Citizens
Revd Sally Foster-Fulton Moderator of the Church of Scotland
Revd Tim Presswood President of Baptists Together 2023-2024
The Rt Revd John Perumbalath Bishop of Liverpool
Rabbi John Levy North Western Reform Synagogue
Imam Dr Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi Chief Imam of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society in the United Kingdom
Rabbi Alexandra Wright from The Liberal Jewish Synagogue
Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford and member of the House of Lords
(2) Refugee Council - Assessment of impact of inadmissibility, removals, detention, accommodation and safe routes (March 2023) https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Refugee-Council-Asylum-Bill-impact-assessement.pdf
World Spirit Theatre
World Spirit Theatre Group produces community theatre that explores integration & the asylum process from the perspective of those experiencing it directly, and celebrates the contributions of asylum seekers and refugees to Scottish communities. World Spirit works with the ‘Forum Theatre’ method, which seeks to directly involve the audience in achieving positive outcomes to the problems that the performers present.
Website for World Spirit Theatre is here: https://www.worldspirittheatre.com
Our upcoming performance as part of the Refugee Festival Scotland is here- https://www.refugeefestivalscotland.co.uk/event/wheel-of-fortune/
Wheel of Fortune: A play about the UK immigration system, integration, life, and death. The journey follows the path to being a citizen; who gets to stay, who gets to be deported.
We would be happy to be included within the website section and be contact via firstname.lastname@example.org for any performance details/future performances.
Hospitality not Hostility
Useful advice for
Refugees Week 2023
‘The God who sees me’
Sanctuary Sunday 2023
25th June 2023
Churches across Scotland and worldwide will be marking Sanctuary Sunday on 25th June 2023. Sanctuary Sunday is an opportunity to express our prayers and solidarity, but also to raise awareness again of our Christian calling to welcome the stranger and do this openly and proudly.
‘God with us’ is a Christian worship resource on the theme of refugees, migration and sanctuary. We have worked ecumenically to create it and hope it will be used by people from many different Christian traditions. It includes bible studies, prayers, liturgies, stories, poems and discussion ideas. This resource supports you with a wealth of content, encouraging you to pray for, but even more importantly with, others.
You can make a request for hard copies here.
A series of videos have been produced by Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees
and Faith in Community Scotland to celebrate the stories of New Scots and Faith communities, and the role faith has played in that journey of seeking, finding and offering sanctuary.
It is hoped the videos will inspire people across Scotland to play their part in building welcoming and cohesive communities.
Video of Central Church
The central church has been welcoming and befriending Kurdish families since 2015. They seek to be home and family for those rebuilding their lives in Edinburgh. Over many years they have built deep relationships and friendships with New Scots sharing life together and helping then re-settle
She is from Central Africa, seeking asylum in Glasgow. She spent some time in an isolating hotel and said when she found her home church in Glasgow, things changed. To quote her “ I was welcomed with open arms”
Video of Mossvale Community Church
The church in Renfrewshire has built community with people seeking asylum, Syrian refugees and Ukranian families in various ways – supporting women who wish to practise English, through workshops in sewing and in setting up a cafe and drop in centre.
She came to Scotland from Iraq with her children. She found a warm and safe place in Castlemilk Community Church. The church supports newcomers by helping to tackle social isolation and make connections in the wider community. The church also runs employability sessions and encourages cross cultural understanding through discussion groups.